Published On: Mon, Sep 28th, 2015

Digital India ok, but focus on transparency: Former CIC Shailesh Gandhi

Mumbai/Guwahati: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a vigorous push for a digitally connected India, former CIC Shailesh Gandhi today said it was the issue of transparency over which he ought to do something first in a time-bound manner to help realise his dream.

Former CIC Shailesh Gandhi

Former CIC Shailesh Gandhi

Gandhi also termed “Digital India” campaign, a pet project of the Modi Government, as “expensive” and “with no real benefits”, as he stressed that only with transparency can there be hope of accountability.

The comments by the former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) came even as Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi attacked Modi for claiming credit for digitalisation, saying he had “inherited” an infrastructure congenial for Information Technology(IT) and was denigrating Jawaharlal Nehru who had laid the foundation for it.

It was the issue of transparency over which Modi ought to do something in a time-bound manner first, Gandhi said, adding that addressing this issue would “ultimately pave the way” for his dream coming true to bring “Digital Governance” in the country.

“Digitisation involves scanning all earlier files and sometimes even the files after they are closed. This has no real benefit and is an expense exercise. Accountability to citizens cannot be achieved unless transparency is built into our governance as a default mode.”

Gandhi, who pronounced several landmark judgements in his four-year tenure (2008-2012) as CIC, said, “When a citizen goes to any office for some work, he is often told that the relevant file is unavailable. If he pays a bribe it becomes available. A significant percentage of corruption and inefficiency is a consequence of this method of keeping paper files.”

“If all work was done on computers and each day the default mode was that it would be displayed on the website, there could be a sea change in our governance. Only some information, which is thought to be exempt under the RTI Act, should not go on the website,” said the noted RTI activist.

“If Parliament proceedings can be telecast live, there is no reason why our executive brand cannot function in a transparent manner. Only with transparency can there be hope of accountability.”

In a statement, Gogoi said Digital India has been made possible because of the young Indians who received training at the IITs and IIMs and credit must be given to them for their role in the IT revolutions in India.

Moreover, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave great importance to IT and had made real contribution in its revolution in India, he said.

“Modi is patting himself for the progress India has made in Information Technology, but he inherited an atmosphere and infrastructure congenial for IT from his predecessors and impact of Google and Facebook to India can also be attributed to the efforts of young entrepreneurs,” Gogoi said.

Prime Minister Modi’s attempt to cash in the efforts of the young technocrats would only expose his narrow political aggrandisement, he said.

The people of India are very intelligent to understand Modi’s marketing tactics and they would give due weightage to the real contributors of IT revolution, he added.

On ‘Digital India’ programme, CPI leader D Raja said, “Modi seems to be pursuing American dreams and not Indian dreams as it will make India a digital colony of the US.


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